Pine View Manor Apartments Go Energy-Efficient

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The residents of Pine View Manor are receiving a break on their energy bills in the form of new window air conditioning units and Energy Star refrigerators.

"This is the first time the county weatherization program has done a multi-unit project," Malissa Buzan, Gila County Housing Services manager said.

"I was really happy when I heard they were coming," Sheila Wootton said. Wootton has lived at Pine View 10 years.

The air conditioning units are remote-controlled.

"That is all I need, another remote. I will be trying to turn the TV on with it," Wootton said, then laughed.

"Seriously, I've been having trouble with my feet, so it will be nice to have the remote.

In addition to the new appliances, the county used a diagnostic device called "blower doors" to test the 25-year-old ductwork throughout the 29 unit low-income complex.

"We found a number of places where we could really save on energy," Buzan said.

"They checked the furnaces and the water heaters today (Thursday) and fixed leaks. I am looking forward to the new refrigerators coming next month," resident Peggy Kittredge said.

Some of the refrigerators are 20 years old.

Residents have also received new energy-efficient, curling-style bulbs for their exterior lights, that can last from seven to 10 years and save 75 percent in energy costs over regular bulbs.

"These residents are naturally energy-conscious so they are really taking to this program," Pine View Manor's Peggy Newman said.

"Peggy, God love her, is the best manager in the whole, wide world," Wootton said.

The approximately $97,000 grant comes from the Arizona Public Service utility company's Energywise Low Income Weatherization Program (ELIMP) handled through local Community Action Program and county housing services offices. ELIMP has been in place since 1996.

"There were big changes last year. Our funding doubled. Now we spend $1.1 million on this program on an annual basis," Jerry Mendoza, the Low Income Assistance Program manager for APS said.

Utility customers who have energy-efficient appliances are better customers because they are able to pay their bills and they are more stable members of the community, Mendoza added.

The project at Pine View Manor came to be when Newman attended an APS seminar and then called Buzan who happened to be looking for low income Housing and Urban Development apartment houses to make a special project.

"I want to try to do one special project a year," Buzan said.

With the leaks fixed and after new appliances are installed in November, Pine View residents' utility bills should decrease by 20 to 30 percent.

The residents celebrated with a reception Oct. 29 with county, CAP, APS and other officials.

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